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Full text of "A history of Persia"

LXVIII

OVERTHROW OF SAFAVI DYNASTY  317
was apparently permitted to do by the cowardly Persians,
who could at least have cut up any small force and
thereby interfered with these operations. Having
successfully laid waste the thriving villages round Isfahan
and driven their inhabitants into the capital, Mahmud
again made an assault on one of the bridges, and this time
with success, the Georgian garrison being hopelessly
drunk. The Afghans then regularly invested the city,
and Aman Ulla Khan intercepted two convoys of food,
sent from Laristan and from the Bakhtiari country.
The Heroic Inhabitants of Ben Isfahan.—A single
gleam of light relieves the otherwise unmixed poltroonery
of the Persian people. Ben Isfahan,1 a village some
ten miles from the capital, declined to surrender. Its
inhabitants did more. They sallied out and attacked
Aman Ulla Khan when he was returning in disorder,
laden with booty from the capture of the Laristan convoy.
Mahmud sent reinforcements, but the bold peasantry
gained a complete victory, killing a number of the enemy
and capturing a brother, an uncle, and two cousins of
Mahmud. Upon hearing of the disaster, the Afghan
leader sent to the Shah to arrange for the release of the
prisoners. This was agreed to, but the messenger the
Shah despatched to Ben Isfahan found that the Afghans
had already been executed. Thereupon .Mahmud killed
all his prisoners, and afterwards withdrew to Farrahabad
in a panic. Incompetency or treachery or both prevented
this success from being followed up by an attack on the
discouraged Afghans, and the loss of a third convoy
again dashed the hopes of the Isfahanis. Yet another
blow was the refusal of aid by the Prince of Georgia,
who, incensed at being prevented from punishing the
Lesgians, had sworn never again to draw his sword for
Persia.
The Unsuccessful Mission of Takmasp Mirza.—Tahmasp
Mirzay the third son of the Shah, was now taken out
of the anderun and proclaimed heir-apparent. With an
escort of six hundred men he broke out of the capital
1 Malcolm states that Ben Isfahan was situated three i liles from the capital, but
Bishop Stileman, who very kindly inquired into the matter, has informed me that it is
one of a group known as Seh Deh, or " Three Villages," some ten miles distant.